|Subject: Re: Help wanted - Chicago trip|
The first name in jazz clubs the Jazz Showcase at 59 W. Grand. Another popular spot is Andy's at 11 E. Hubbard. These are both a few blocks north of the Loop. Just a little farther north is Blue Chicago which is primarily blues, but can have "jazzy" blues.
When you say downtown, do you mean in the Loop? That would be the business district, but also now contains the theatre district. There are two relatively small hotels that are renovations. The Hotel Allegro on Randolph Street is the reincarnation of the old Bismark Hotel, where the Cook County Democratic party reigned in its heyday. The party is not the same, and, fortunately, the hotel is not either.
The other hotel, located at the corner of State and Washington, is the Hotel Burnham. I have not seen any of it other than the restaurant, but it does look nice in the lobby. It is relatively small.
I also live in the Wicker Park area, and recommend it for a visit. The Blue line is the easiest way to get there, as Erik said, but it would be about a $10 cab ride, and you would easily find a cab to go back downtown. It is a really crowded place on the weekend evenings since it is quite popular with the younger set, but during the week or on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon you will see visitors and residents mingling on the streets.
I respectfully disagree with Marguerite (whom I met at Navy Pier a couple of years ago) about Navy Pier. Unless you go during the week, it is uncomfortably crowded and the restaurants are among the most overpriced in Chicago. On the other hand, it is the only place to pick up the big tour ships that Marguerite mentioned, and it is a great place from which to watch the plentiful pleasure craft on the lake. It is free to just walk around. Since Chicago has one of the most magnificent waterfronts in the world (and I have been fortunate to see quite a few), it is worth taking one of the tour ships. It is especially beautiful at night, but skip the dinner cruise since there are so many wonderful restaurants on shore and the dinner cruise food is mediocre at best.
Enjoy your visit! Lisa in Chicago